NCAA tournament 2015 TV schedule: Who to watch in Sunday's 'Elite 8' (+video)
On Sunday, Duke plays Gonzaga and Louisville takes on Michigan State. Who will emerge Sunday to travel to Indianapolis next weekend for the "Final Four?".
We start in the East with No. 4 seed Louisville taking on No. 7 seed Michigan State. This contest features a pair of coaches who have been here before and will match wits at the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University: Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino of Louisville and Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who led the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA national title.
For Pitino and the Cardinals, it's been a up-and-down season. The dismissal from the team of starting guard Chris Jones on allegations of rape and after an 11-0 start, followed by the team posting a 5-5 record in their last ten games prior to the start of the NCAA tournament.
However, Pitino, who has won NCAA championships as head coach at both the University of Kentucky in 1996 and at Louisville two years ago, has got his club going in the right direction, following three solid wins in the NCAA tourney. The latest victory was over fellow ACC foe North Carolina State Friday night. Junior forward Montrezl Harrell led the way with 24 points. But it may have been the heady play of freshman guard Quentin Snider, who has replaced Jones in the starting lineup, and sophomore guard Anton Gill, that pushed Louisville over the top against the Wolfpack. Snyder scored 14 points and Gill added seven in the second half as the Cards held off N.C. State to advance.
Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans have been challenged, as well, this season. A two-game losing streak late in the Big Ten regular season, followed by an overtime loss to Wisconsin in the conference tournament final, meant the Spartans had to wait and see where the NCAA selection committee would put them in the "Big Dance."
Three close wins, all by no more than seven points - including Friday night's victory over No. 3 seed Oklahoma – and Michigan State finds itself in the "Elite Eight" for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last six years. The Spartans were led by senior guard Travis Trice's 24 points and some tough team defense that held the Sooners to less than 37 percent shooting from the floor.
You can watch Michigan State and Louisville on CBS, beginning at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.
The second NCAA tournament game of the day will be the South region final between No. 1 seed Duke and No. 2 seed Gonzaga in Houston.
But Duke will need to rely on star freshman center Jahlil Okafor for points and defensive presence in the paint in Sunday's game. If Gonzaga has him covered, look for guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook to try knocking down three-point shots or take the ball to the basket.
Despite regular season success in the past, Gonzaga has reached a regional final for only the second time since 1999. They defeated UCLA, 74-62, Friday evening. It was the second time this season the Bulldogs beat the Bruins.
Gonzaga, also known as the 'Zags,' had four players score in double figures, led by their bruising center Przemek Karnowski's 18 points and nine rebounds. Karnowski is from Poland and graduated from a school there named for the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who postulated that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of the universe.
At seven feet, one inch tall and listed at 288 pounds, you might think Karnowski is the center of Gonzaga's offensive universe and becomes a black hole when the ball goes into him. But the 'Zags do spread the ball around. Former Kentucky player Kyle Wiltjer averages 16 points per game. Senior guards Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley also average double figures in scoring.
Duke and Gonzaga can also be seen on CBS after the Louisville-Michigan State game, at approximately 5:05 p.m. Eastern.